Papers of John Adams, volume 8

To Benjamin Franklin

To Benjamin Franklin

From Edmund Jenings, 15 May 1779 Jenings, Edmund JA


From Edmund Jenings, 15 May 1779 Jenings, Edmund Adams, John
From Edmund Jenings
Dear Sir Paris May. 15. 1779

I have receivd your favor Acknowledging the Receipt of Mine of the 24th of April,1 which seems to have been long while getting to you. I was sorry to hear of your Dissapointment in going in the Alliance, which some people here think woud be better Employed in convoying on the Coast of America the very important fleet now gone then any 63marading Scheme Whatever. I suppose you will Accompany the new Minister, who I hear bears a most Excellent Character.

These are times not to sing to the God of Love, I mean for an American, altho the poor French Officer could not help it. You have much to go through, before you Enjoy even domestic peace and Comfort. You have put your Hand to the plough and must not look back nor do I think ought any of these great Men, who have hitherto laboured in the field, least New Ones come in and spoil the Harvest.

The people of England are amused with the talk of Peace and they Amuse the Spanyards with a supposed Disposition towards it. How long the Court of Spain may be amused I Know it,2 but England is certainly putting herself greatly on her Gaurd; on a Supposition that the delusion will not last long.3 The Dutch have put into Commission 30 Ships to Convoy their Trade, and Sweden has grantd Convoys to the Mediterrean and through the Channel of England.4 These Measures have Affectd the Stocks of England.

I hear that Mr. D has liberty to come over and to settle either His or the public Accounts—his Friends are rejoicd at it.5 I am Sorry to find you hear Nothing from the Congress, their Time must surely be greatly taken up with domestic Matters, not to think of their foreign Affairs and Servants. A Ship from Maryland has lately brought a large Packet to the Count de Vergennes but I Hear of Nothing arriving to our Minister here. I saw Him last Wednesday. He is quite Hearty.

You tell me they are puzzld to Know what Party you Are of, because you are of None. My Case The Judgment of me is very different, because I am of None, Each Side thinks I am of the other, and Caution one Another Against me. In Some Humours that I am in, this is a Matter of Laughter, in others of Contempt, but in general of much Concern. So long however as I think I mean well to the Country, I shall think that those, who Abuse me most, are the worst Men and mean the least good to the States. This is the Dictate of Self Complacency, and is a natural Rule of Judgement, and so they must Excuse, the opinion I may form of them in return.

Palliser is acquitted,6 the Court having declard, that his Conduct was in some Cases highly honorable and Exemplary, altho he was Somewhat blameable in not informing the Admiral of his Distress. Thus We see, that however Infamous a Man May be, his Party will Justify and give Him Honor. May America never be so Corrupted and debased.

I Hope your Son is well and affords you the Comfort your Situation requires.

64 I am Dear Sir Your Most Obedient & devotd Hble Sert Edm: Jenings

RC (Adams Papers).


JA's letter of 4 May acknowledged Jenings' letter of the 25th, not the 24th of April (both above).


Presumably written for “not.”


For the deteriorating relations between Spain and Great Britain, see JA to Benjamin Franklin, 13 April, note 2 (above).


The decision by Sweden to provide convoys for its vessels was made in March, after Russia had declined to enter into concert with the Northern powers (Sweden and Denmark) to protect neutral trade against British seizures, as originally proposed by Denmark's foreign minister in the fall of 1778 (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780 , p. 73–86). Together with the action taken by the Netherlands on 26 April (see Franklin to JA, 10 May, above), Sweden's action foreshadowed the Armed Neutrality proposed by Russia in 1780.


Jenings' information was erroneous; see JA to Benjamin Franklin, 29 April, note 1 (above).


The court-martial or, more accurately, the court of inquiry, since there were no charges against him, of Vice Adm. Hugh Palliser ended on 5 May. Palliser had sought the trial to vindicate his conduct at the battle off Ushant because Adm. Keppel earlier had been acquitted of the charges brought by Palliser (see JA to Francis Dana, 25 Dec. 1778, note 4, above), thus casting doubt on his own reputation and conduct during the battle. Although Palliser was found innocent, his career in the navy was over, and he spent the remainder of his life as governor of Greenwich Hospital (Mackesy, War for America , p. 242–243; for daily proceedings of the trial, see the issues of the London Chronicle from 10–13 April through 4–6 May).